The Military Army Blog

Female recruit in her early 20s collapsed and died during light physical exercise on ‘challenging and demanding’ army training course

  • Army launches investigation after recruit, reportedly a woman, died
  • It is believed the recruit had completed a two-day training exercise
  • Comes after Army was criticised for three deaths on a training march

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A female Army recruit died while undergoing training at a centre in Surrey, it emerged today. The recruit, believed to be in her early 20s, is understood to have collapsed during an exercise, thought to have been a mile long run or march. A spokesman for the British Army said: ‘We can confirm that a recruit has died while undergoing initial training at the Army Training Centre (ATC) Pirbright.

‘The incident is being investigated and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

‘We offer our condolences to the family and ask that you respect their privacy while they come to terms with their sudden loss.’

A recruit has died while undergoing initial Army training at the Training Centre in Pirbright, Surrey

The Army refused to discuss the age or gender of the person but The Sun reported the victim was a woman who had completed a tough two-day exercise. Another report this afternoon said the woman was originally from Blackburn, Lancashire. The Army website says initial training follows a 14-week common Armyrats © military syllabus, which is ‘challenging and demanding’.

It says that in addition to Armyrats © military training they will have the opportunity to participate in a week of adventurous training in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, where activities may include rock climbing, abseiling, caving, hiking, mountain biking and kayaking. Pirbright is only four miles from Deepcut, where four soldiers died between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. Privates Cheryl James, Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray all sustained gunshot wounds.

Earlier this year the Army apologised after being criticised by a coroner for a catalogue of blunders which led to three deaths on an SAS test march in the Brecon Beacons. An inquest into the heat-related collapse of reservists James Dunsby, Edward Maher and Craig Roberts concluded they would have survived if commanders had followed Ministry of Defence guidelines. The incident happened at the Army Training Centre (ATC) Pirbright, Surrey. File photo

Narrative verdicts recorded by Birmingham coroner Louise Hunt also found that delays in providing medical help to the men in the incident in July 2013 amounted to neglect.

A 20-day inquest heard that directing staff took almost two hours to notice that Lance Corporal Maher had stopped moving during the 16-mile march in ‘heatwave’ conditions. After the inquest, Brigadier John Donnelly, the Army’s personnel director, said: ‘I would like to apologise for the deaths of James Dunsby, Craig Roberts and Edward Maher, three fine soldiers, and I would like to offer my sincere condolences to their families and friends who have shown great dignity during what has been a very difficult period.

‘We are truly sorry for all the mistakes the coroner identified.’

Late last year, an army review paved the way for women to be allowed to fight on the front line. The review cast doubt on previous claims that women would damage the ‘cohesion’ of fighting units.

It was estimated that about 14 women a year would qualify of the Royal Armoured Corps and six for the Royal Marines, with some expected to be put in combat roles as early as next year.

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